Mettur, 6 June 2010: A malfunction in a factory unit of Sri Lakshmi Chemicals in SIDCO Mettur claimed the life of one worker and injured two. According to the sources the accident occurred at around 5.30 pm on June 4, when the Sodium Sulphate manufacturing plant of the unit developed some technical glitch rendering the entire batch useless requiring to be cleared out of the manufacturing tank. Instead of applying mechanical methods of clearing the sludge, the management sent two contract workers, Mahadev and Vijayan, inside the tank to physically remove the sludge. The workers were not given any protective gears and they fainted after being exposed to toxic gases upon entering the tank. Seeing this, a lorry owner and driver in the unit, Selvam of RS Kavipuram village, jumped into the tank to rescue the workers. While Mahadev and Vijayan were brought out live from the tank, Selvam succumbed to the injuries caused by the toxic gases and
Both workers, who are residents of Mottur village were hospitalized in a private hospital in Salem for treatment and were discharged after 24 hours. The factory owner is known to have paid a sum of 6 lakhs to the family of the lorry owner as katta panchayat (kangaroo court) arrangement.
The factory supplies raw materials to Chemplast Sanmar and another unit in Pondycherry. No cases have been registered against the owner or the unit for this accident. A complaint about the accident and death of the worker has been sent by the community monitors to the Factories Inspectorate, TNPCB and District Collectorate.